Habet mundus iste noctes suas non paucas
First of all, lets start from the emotional music depth, its roots, influences and inspirations, destructive and constructive emotions and ritually occult mission, spiritual mystical objects, ancient ethnos?
Steve: My family roots are obscure, I was adopted so I don't know anything about my ancestors. My social roots are a mixture - my father was a gardener who worked on a big country estate and our house was a one-time farmhouse on the edge of the grounds. So although it was not really our house, just loaned for the job, we lived in a rural parkland environment: on the other hand I went to school in a very working class coal-mining town. I always hated the landowner my father worked for, an English Lord, the sort who was entitled by the British constitution to vote unelected in the House of Lords but never turned up, except if something affected him personally (tax relief for the well-off etc). A disgusting old man. My adoptive father would always be too respectful when he spoke to this rich old cunt, he would try to correct his working class speech patterns and sound 'educated' just to impress the boss. I felt embarrassed and angry with my dad for being such a traitor to himself. My mother was bad-tempered and negative, a misery, a real spoiler, spreading unhappiness as revenge for not being able to have her own children.
And good things... From those years I remember atmospheres connected with tall grass, woodland, muddy paths through acres of rhodedendron bushes, catching fish in lakes with overgrown banks, farm animals, the smell of hay and cowshit, disused farm buildings filled with cobwebs and old machinery, climbing into vats full of rapeseed, farmhands with dark curly hair and muscular arms who drove Landrovers and worked with their fathers... There was some loneliness which I dealt with by reading, lots of horror fiction, some sci-fi and detective stuff. I discovered H.P. Lovecraft when I was 11, there were two volumes of his short stories at the library and they were a big influence on me. The darker emotional roots which feed into our music are, for me, probably to do with the loneliness, feeling very insecure about my place in the world, I was thrown off balance by a number of things that happened to me. These are the negative emotional channels in me, on the other hand a positive aspect was realising that I was queer, something which made me stronger. As soon as I felt arousal and excitement about other boys, I felt I had something that was new and special to me - it was exciting to be sexually aware in this way. You are part-shaped by genetics and environment but through Will you have the choice to accept or reject. So with your identity, the choice to embrace or suppress your difference is the final piece of the puzzle, liberating you from the predetermined.
I remember one night feeling unhappy, trying to jerk off thinking about a girl because a boy I had a crush on had said something really contemptuous and nasty to me about queers. Sometimes when you're frustrated and alone with your feelings you can feel maybe that's all that you're going to get if you carry on being queer, just scorn and rejection. I tried to fantasise about a girl but all I could see was this boy I liked, I could imagine he was fucking her but I only got aroused thinking about him. 'The girl' was just a blur, hardly there, all my imaginative energy was being employed picturing my schoolfriend naked and thrusting into her. I ended up wanking about him instead and immediately felt better. You need a good active imagination when you're growing up queer, there's so much frustration and thwartedness to deal with.
I went through a
period of believing in the Christian myth, for about two years when I was 10-12.
An English teacher I liked was also the Religious Studies teacher and I think
I ended up getting into it because I wanted to please him, a bit of a father-figure
thing. But it wasn't entirely that, I was up for the idea of God for a while.
But as soon as I read Leviticus and it became clear that God thought homosexuality
was 'an abomination,' I threw 'Him' out and that was the end of it. I won't
invest in a religion that doesn't value sexuality and the links between physical
and emotional love. Watching the hordes of sexless old people bawling their
dreary hymns to a God who seemed to be all 'don't do this' and 'don't do that'
you soon tire of the idea, at least as it's characterised by Christianity. And
gay Christians seem to me to be fools, trying to wheedle their way into the
House of God by semantics and sophistry, 'reinterpreting' the Scriptures to
get their sorry asses on the pew alongside the Christians that hate them. So
I emerged from this brief flirtation with the worship of God, and realised that
if I was going to satisfy that side of my nature I'd rather do it with a man
than a phantom. For years I didn't perceive much need for a spiritual dimension
to life, I saw it as a weakness that betrayed an inability to face the absolute
material fact of death, a classic hardcore existential atheist position. But
then I became aware that something was still there, a desire for transcendence
that never seemed to completely disappear, and it started to feel that this
was a deep part of our structure. So what if the first exposure to spirituality
was a false alarm, a dead end? Perhaps there were other realities where everything
could be incorporated. In these feelings I'm obviously on an early part of the
path, but I like the idea of opening the door to a wider metaphysical perspective
and following the signs from there.
If you touched it any times (due to life duration, individual creative activity, according to collaborations with such musicians as Mr.Tibet, Douglas P., Karl Black, David Knight, John Balance, Peter Christopherson and Thighpaulsandra, Vicki Bennett, etc...) what is, in your opinion, the kernel of music receiving power, sound chaos and harmony, its victim in the feast of modern world and its processes?
Steve: It's all in the vibrations! The universe would be nothing without vibration, and music is the sculpting of space-time by vibrational means. I've had a few very strange experiences on drugs where there was a shift into another place, and these journeys were always prefigured by an increased psychic vibrational sensation. Vibrations and electricity, they're the two factors that make it happen! I think music offers the possibility of transcendence, it is a dimensional, transforming, multi-levelled experience to be enraptured by music. Perhaps a reason to get involved with music is that, having dropped religion, we still need avenues to confront the mysterious.
Simon: I believe we are all receivers and transmitters, tuning into electrical vibrations. We are electrical vibrations, we read them and translate them, oscillate with them. They're like ancestral fingerprints and pawprints - human, animal and celestial - and they're everywhere around us and within us, reflecting both the past and future. When we are working on a piece of music and it comes to life I feel that this inspiration is born of these ancestral currents, an atavistic resurgence. When we start a new track we are like pathfinders.
What is the mission of music today? What is the mission of composer and what are the embodiments of its receiving effects?
Steve: Missions are usually projects where the end has already been decided, and we don't think like that. Music has the ability to enrich the moment, to potentiate and dramatise the feelings of the individual, and sometimes to create channels of communication, exchanges of energy. It's a form of communication, it's a mutational form, which alters in relation to the listener's being. The bottom line is that many artists don't really know why they do what they're doing, they might have some conscious aims but, honestly, they are often tagged on after the fact. It's a primal force in human nature, to create symbolic representations, worlds anew, abstractions and patterns pulled from life experience, making a feeling into a sound or a picture. It's basic, we have a drive to express and construct alternative realities, to change our reality through the game of art. To what end, I don't know, a manifestation of the desire for transcendence is my best guess. Sometimes one can feel disheartened or transfixed by a feeling of meaninglessness, where the functional aspect of what you do feels like a kind of neurotic affliction, just as some people compulsively check that the gas is switched off, or like rats on speed exploring their cages repetitively over and over and over. Drugs and sex are mediums for exploring altered reality, but music has this instantaneous transformative power too. If you are listening to the radio and after a string of dull or idiotic records they play something good, you feel your heart lift and your whole body registers the change. Radiohead's "Pyramid Song" was released here as a single, and although it didn't get much radio play, when you heard it among the dismal fluff and drivel of daytime commercial radio it felt like a radiation from another world, just the opening bars would shift you from the mundane axis and into a transformed state of reality. Radiohead complain a bit too much about being trapped in big business medialand but they're headed in the right direction, I think, and it's just a miracle these days to find a band who sell lots of records who have the genuine wish to experiment.
Simon: The mission of most music today is to create a sound that is already so familiar that people will like it the moment they hear it, so we have our modern day Beatles and Rolling Stones, our new Kate Bush, Syd Barrett etc etc... It's all a karaoke wasteland. For us music is about surprise, it's about bafflement as well as discovery, i.e. not being able to understand a composition but enjoying trying to. Music that escapes definition but excites the mind when you try for it.
Your impressing musical career - what is the "raison d'etre' of this process and that stuff, making you to create and construct?
Steve: We want to raise enough money to start a farm, dedicated to the production of edible products derived from the sperm of horses, bulls, dogs and goats.
Simon: For me there is no other way forward, music is an artform that I find challenging and it's something I've always felt very passionate about. I do it because I can't do anything else except perhaps cross stitching. I want to create something that isn't a baby!
is our cross, our eternal burden: what events, facts and artifacts
influenced you at all?
Steve: The past is only a cross if you cut it up that way, it's just experience and stored ideas. We are now reaching a sort of threshold in art and culture, a process that began with modernism which has reached an impasse in the postmodern, where there is this endless redigestion and recycling going on. I think it may be that there is a need for the sacred and for some sort of belief in transcendence again, something that was expelled by the modernist project in favour of an existential, lateral, obsessional regard for the edges, leaving inside it a world without a soul, the hollow men etc. The avant-garde has ceased to mean anything because the edges have been duly recorded, Dada, Surrealism, Hyper-realism, Warhol, Fluxus, these art movements and artists pushed the expression of creativity to its last boundaries and after that we're left with an endless bumblebee perambulation around the interior of the circle. Now the only remaining art lies in the way co-ordinates are juxtaposed, a closed infinity, the play of endless combinations within a finite space. Radio stations are playing 'bootlegs' of - for instance - the opening chords of 10cc's 'Dreadlock Holiday' with the vocal tracks from Eternal's title song for the film 'Charlie's Angels'. Th-th-th-that's postmodernism, folks! Total recording of events, total exposure to the ideas of the past, total access to information, all these things are leading (have led?) to the end of history, the past you describe as a burden will no longer exist, except as a virtual temporality mapped across the endless neurotic interactions of the present.
Influential ancient events: being put up for adoption, having fits as a child, being terrified by a TV show here in Britain called Dr Who, seeing Roxy Music on a British TV show called 'Top of the Pops.'
Influential mid-period events: the friendships that lead to the forming of my first band Possession, coming to London, Coil-time, relationship with a fellow drug-fiend that crashed and burned after seven years, being fucked up the arse by a big dog, seeing Butthole Surfers at the Clarendon 1986, visit to Marrakesh 1991, vast amounts of speed and acid between 1985-1995.
Influential recent events: severe depression 1992-1994, end of major drug use, a reinvigorating life with Simon, holiday in Wales at Thighpaulsandra's where I finally got into classic period Yes, feeling presences manifest during the recording of 'Luminous Darkness', a visit from Teen Angels No.9, 10 & 11.
Simon: I don't think the past is necessarily just our burden. In some ways the past is the only way forward. People are too preoccupied with what's going to happen in the future, wanting to leave the past behind. who's going to be 'number one'? what we'll be like in 10 years time, always reaching ahead but never truly appreciating what's in the present or in the past.
How do you feel the creative energetic of yourself and each other?
Steve: I think we aim to surprise and please each other as well as ourselves, we want to get each other's imaginations working. At first, you record to see where a path is going, nothing else, and then you try to shape what's there to excite yourself and feed your own fantasies more. After this has started it's time to play the early work to one another and begin a process of combining our aims and fantasies until a creature that is neither his nor mine but an amalgamation ensues.
Simon: We feel each other's creative energy very strongly, we live together and spend most of our time together, so we're very much in tune.
Electronic music is one of the modern complicated synthetic forms of creative culture that rightly depend on furiously developing technologies. What is your attitude to contemporary technocracy - is it connected with widely spreading process of isolation, dehumanization?
Steve: Electronic instruments are just like any other as far as we're concerned, they have their plusses and minuses, which is why we use them alongside acoustic instruments. As soon as music was recorded onto those old wax cylinders at the turn of the century, that's when everything changed. Electronic music is just a variation on that. The real revolution came with the recording of sound. After that, music was never going to have the same meaning as it did when the only way to hear it was to attend a concert or to play it yourself. I don't know if it's true that people are being isolated by technologies, I think it's more the result of what the technologies reveal. We are now aware of the whole world's political and social problems, we are bombarded with information on every conceivable subject, no race before has had so much to worry about - without that worry being attached to a necessary action. In the industrial revolution you were worried about the backbreaking work you had to do, worried about things at a local level connected with your immediate personal life. In fact worry isn't the right word for that, worrying is kind of passive anxiety, and that passivity wasn't available to turn-of-the-century workers. So maybe people are fleeing into a voluntary isolation rather than being harangued by all the wretched insoluble mess of the world, throwing themselves into work because the world is at least more constrained by structures and patterns that they can handle. In Britain, young people leaving school nowadays fully expect to work longer and longer hours. The welfare state has been eroded and made so diffcult in this country that the option of slacking is harder and harder to sustain.
Simon: People make good music and bad music, there's just as much space to feed emotion into a work that may have been created only on computer as there is into a tradional rock band with drums and guitars. The problem is people get distracted by technique at the expense of the soul and it becomes a precise paint-by-numbers exercise, a demonstration of someone's cleverness without any desire to communicate anything else other than that. it's a failure that exists in all the artworld, not just music. But as far as something being purely electronic, for me it's as pagan as banging a deer skin drum.
Ideological side of creative activity - is it of big importance for you? What are the roots of your ideology?
Steve: The word 'ideology' comes loaded with so much prior weight that it needs deconstructing before there can be a dialogue on the subject. "To say that you don't have an ideology is itself an ideological statement." That's the sort of tautological crap that political 'radicals' used to come out with. My political feelings are pretty left-libertarian which may have some expression through the way we work but it's not something that I find interesting to discuss.
The name of Cyclobe sound like a well-known mythic being, a Cyclops, monster, but also Cyclobe is a sort of special halucinatory medical drug. What is the significance of it in explanation of metaphysical and psychedelic structures of your work?
Steve: The word carries lots of similarities to other wors, both in the spelling and the sound, I always hear the 'lobe' part which makes me think of the brain and the mystery of the self tucked into the grey sponge behind the eyes, and the first syllable sounds like the greek letter Psi, which is used to represent extrasensory perceptions and powers. Then there's the similarity to words like 'cycle' and 'cyclone' which adds a certain feeling of timespan and the powers of nature. Our psychedelic experiences have permanently changed the way we listen, the way we shape and sculpt our sound. I don't take many drugs these days but those experiences continue to inform my decisions and preferences.
Simon: It's also a muscle relaxant as well as a muticoloured spinning disc. We've experimented a lot in the past with psychedelics and amphetamines, they are definitely experiences that have fed into our work and day-to-day life, when you go into those worlds a bit of it leaves with you as well, good and bad things in equal measure. There are doors that once opened, never really close.
What, by the way, do you think about nowadays exasperated art monstrosity and permutation: Eraserhead of David Lynch, organic mutations by Barker and Gibson, J.-P. Witkin and Porter freaks?
Steve: Lynch has done some remarkable work, both Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr. are fantastic creations, especially now that he's finding it more difficult to get funding, it would be so easy for him to opt for a more conventional path but he keeps finding new ways of exploring evil, identity traumas, worlds in flux. Clive Barker has taken a more mainstream route, I haven't read any of his recent books but I know he's currently in development with Disney, I think they want another Harry Potter franchise. I doubt I'd like what he's doing now but I think it's good that he's looking for ways to entrance kids with fantastical fiction of some sort. William Gibson I've never read. Witkin is a great artist whose work has been rather overexposed and ripped off left right and centre. Just like the way surrealism was partly co-opted by the advertising industry. He seems willing to allow others to mimic or borrow his imagery, which I think is a shame. Alejandro Jodorowsky calls monstrosity/deformity 'natural imagination' and I think that's a very enlightened way of seeing things. But there is an atavistic side to our responses, very deep and dangerous, which seeks to reject the monstrous. We may have a theoretical wish to incorporate the monstrous into a non-judgemental aesthetic but it's not so easy. There's a real conflict that has to be admitted, between the impulse to reject the monstrous and the ambition to embrace all the anarchic variety it manifests. Lynch's film The Elephant Man works with this problem, there can be no doubt that the first desire is to gaze at the horror of this astonishingly malformed person, but then the horror changes into a sense of empathy as we perceive the struggle to maintain some dignity and purpose with such an extreme form of difference. It's only then that we really see our own gaping faces and see the monstrousness there. On the other hand, one way to embrace difference is to let it keep the energy of the accursed rather than trying to turn 'monsters' into 'good guys', which is where I think Clive Barker's film Nightbreed went wrong. It's to love the malevolence and accept its presence that I enjoy the spectacles of horror in horror movies, I don't want to have the monster as the hero, the monster deserves better!
Simon: Difference is what keeps the world alive, ugly should be the new beautiful.
Madness - as driving force of art (Austrian lunatic asylum and ritual theatre of Herman Nietsch...) How do you see and reflect psychological and dramatic aspects of modern art and complex of most sharp and perverted life shivers: extremality of modern reality developing ways, your opinion in connection with it to serial violence, terrorism, Serbia, religious confessions, conflicts the Crusades of Islam, Black September in NYC, renaissance of arian-scandinavic runic traditions and rise of interest in the paganism, traditionalism, astral voices phenomenon, magic and occult culture, magic side of art, spiritual side of sound - what do you think about it?
Steve: If by madness you mean the sense of boundaries shifting or disappearing then that's certainly something we aim to cultivate inour music world. As a 'driving force' I think you're overstating the case a bit, because there's also a striving for the establishment of an aesthetic of beauty in chaos and disorder which is a sly way to stabilize against the forces that drive us crazy. "My art keeps me sane" as the disturbed artist guy in Cronenberg's Scanners says. The horrors you've listed are never explicitly summoned or related to in our work but you'd have to be a cabbage to be unaffected by what they suggest about human nature. The quality of aggravated collisions of sound in our music is a reflectin of our awareness of these things. Racial purity and the old arian trip is all bullshit in my opinion, we all came from worms wriggling in the primeval silt, so how pure do we want to get? That's my idea of racial purity, a planet full of tiny worms wriggling into infinity. By the time you've grown blonde hair and Caucasian colouring you're hopelessly corrupted so you might as well get used to it.
Simon: Art should
reflect, transmute, invoke, destroy, terrorise, dispel and mystify. Of course
war, terrorism, abuse are all things that I find appalling but also inevitable,
we'll always be riddled with it, we'll always feast on it. It all feeds into
our work because we experience it either directly or from a distance, we can't
help but be infected, we can't help but infect.
"Cigarette smoke it makes me choke, litter makes me shiver." - Candice Marie, 'Nuts in May'.
one of my friends-musicians told me story about strange incident with him: in
the time of one of his usual electro-musical experiences unexpected he heard
a strange unknown sound from his equipment. it was not his playing sound and
he got a feeling that it was a sort of UFO-nature sound, from any spiritual
world... We know well about some different metaphysical incidents named Voice-Phenomens,
but human voice it's also sound first off. What do you
think about similar situations, did you have a similar experiments and
what is your opinion about nature of the sound spiritual elements in our life,
their infuences on our creative or usual life processes?
Steve: I love being visited by other presences in our music, the energies released by our choices are often shocking to me, I attribute this to the fact that all energy is a form of life and we never hold all the strings. What better way to respect otherness than to credit it and let it flourish in your own creations? Authorship has its pleasures but it would be an arid experience if all you heard at the end of a recording was everything you put there and nothing more. Sounds open doors to another place and we let things cross over.
Simon: We're surrounded by ghosts, fingerprints of the past, vibrations from nature on earth and in space. At times, when making music, it can become almost like meditation, you can forget yourself, open up to a wider cosmic state, embrace the influences and translate them through electricity very much like a medium. Sometimes we've had no recollection at all of making certain sounds and combinations. At times we've had a very definite impression of a third person in our studio influencing our choices, affecting how we relate to one another, sometimes very positive but on occasion malicious. I recall working on 'The body feels light and wants to fly' and being aware of a Roman soldier watching over me, his chin virtually on my right shoulder, for at least an hour i didn't question it, never even considered it to be at all uncanny, just accepted him as if he'd always been there. I felt like he was guiding me, steadying my path, like a spirit walker.
Igor Vaganov vs Cyclobe,2002.